How to travel with a baby or toddler
Travelling with a baby or toddler can be nerve-wracking. Especially when it comes to maintaining their precious sleep and routine – the two things you've likely worked so hard to perfect and get right. Many parents (possibly you) worry that making sleep and routine work while travelling will be all too hard. Some end up feeling like they shouldn't even bother with trips or holidays and trust me; I've been there too on many occasions when my children were little. Making it all work is possible and so worth it. With knowledge, a little planning and preparation and a positive mindset, your baby or child can continue their familiar routine and sleep well during your travel and while you're on holiday too. Here are my top 6 sleep and routine tips for travelling with a baby or toddler on a successful holiday!
1. Maintaining Daily Routine
Aim to keep your little one's daily routine as close to 'normal' as possible. They will adapt and adjust to the different environments and people around them a lot easier if the overall flow of their day (and night) stays relatively the same. This includes continuing your baby or child's natural feed/play/sleep pattern during the day when you are driving long distances or on the plane.
For example, when they are hungry, offer a feed and/or a meal or a snack depending on the time of the day, followed by some 'play' time, then facilitate sleep when they are tired and need a nap. NOTE - naps while travelling may be shorter than usual. If you can help your little one resettle and nap for more prolonged, fantastic. If not, start your next feed/play/sleep cycle and away you go again.
2. Replicate Bedtime 'Wind Down'
If you're still travelling at the end of the day, a top tip for travelling with a baby or toddler is to replicate your baby or child's familiar bedtime routine, aiming to have them asleep and starting their 'night' around the same as they would at home. Start with some solids for dinner, followed by a little massage and into their ergoPouch Pyjamas or Layers.
Finish with a milk feed (breast, formula, or sippy cup), burp, then place your little one into their favourite Cocoon Swaddle Bag or Pouch and allow them space to either drift off to sleep on their own or with some assistance from you.
3. Recreate the Sleep Environment
When you're travelling, try to recreate your little one's home sleep environment as best you can. Before each nap and at bedtime, put them in their ergoPouch Sleepwear as this will help signal it's 'sleep time' and ensure they stay snug and cozy. Attempt to make their sleep space as dark as possible and free of too many bright lights and stimulating distractions.
If your baby or child ends up sleeping in your arms, face them into you to create some darkness (if possible). Artificial white noise machines are not necessary during travel. Allow your baby or child to listen and get used to the normal noises around them. The more they do this, the more familiar and comforting these noises will become. Do pack some Window Blockouts to create a dark space in your hotel, Airbnb, Grandma's home etc. Game-changer we all need them!
4. Settling and Resettling
If there are times when you cannot settle your little one, or they cannot settle themselves during sleep or when they are awake, take some time out to rock or hold them as much needed. Tag team with your husband, wife, or partner, as it can get quite stressful dealing with an unsettled baby or child on your own. Remember, it's all temporary. You will not 'ruin' their sleep and routine if it all goes out the window. At the end of the day, all you can do is your best.
5. Be Consistent!
When it comes to how to travel with your baby or toddler, consistency is key. When you get to your destination, immediately adjust yourself and your little one's routine to the local time zone if it differs from where you've travelled. Do expect that the first two or three days with your baby or child may be a little 'out of whack' as they recover from the travel and adjust to their new surroundings. Again, stick to their familiar day and night routine as best you can and ride out that first day or two, knowing it's very normal and it will pass. Avoid making drastic changes, stick to what you know, and you will all get into the holiday swing of things before you know it.
6. The Easy Sleep Portable Bassinet
On your holiday, having somewhere safe (and comfortable) for your baby to sleep isn’t just a top tip for travelling with a baby - it’s essential. The Easy Sleep Portable Bassinet is the perfect solution for newborns and younger bubs who aren't yet rolling or moving around in their sleep space. The travel bassinet features a lightweight but sturdy steel frame, which folds away into a super compact backpack for easy transport and storage. Mesh sides run the entire way around the bassinet. The mattress is permeated with airflow holes, creating a 360 degree safe and breathable environment in which to sleep your baby.
So, what about travelling on your way home? The same advice applies.
You can watch our video on how to use the portable sleep baassinet - this discusses how you can help maintain a sleep routine for baby while out of the house.
About the Author
Steph Gouin is a qualified Baby and Child Sleep Consultant, a Registered Nurse of over 15 years and Mum to her three beautiful children. As one of Australia's leading sleep experts, Steph is an International Keynote Speaker, having travelled to the Middle East in 2019 to speak at a Toddler Health and Wellness Conference.
She's been published on several online parenting forums, including 'Kidspot' and 'The Tot' in the US, in numerous Australian parenting magazines. She is one of two' resident sleep experts' for @mymothersgroup and Kidspot. Steph is incredibly passionate about the work she does and gains great satisfaction from educating, supporting and guiding parents as soon as their baby arrives and, in the years, beyond.